Habitat Use and Connectivity


Background

  Kaminando’s ongoing research focuses on the largest felid in the Americas, the jaguar (Panthera onca). The wide-ranging carnivore is an important part of the area’s ecology, culture, and history.  However, the species is considered near threatened (IUCN 2009) across its range. The decline of jaguars is attributed to anthropogenic pressures that conflict with their basic ecological needs. The biggest threat comes from deforestation, which causes habitat fragmentation and isolated populations. Prey depletion and illegal killing have also contributed to their decline.
  The study area currently encompasses 220 km2 of the 11,500 ha Mamoní Valley Preserve (MVP). Our research will determine whether the MVP serves as a stepping-stone habitat, enabling jaguar movement through the narrowest stretch of the Isthmus of Panama.  We
are examining how the nature of the intervening landscape elements influence occupation and dispersal of jaguars.  Our program is also determining jaguar density across landscape systems within the Guna Yala Comarca, Chagres National Park and the MVP, and establish whether the study area supports populations of jaguar prey (i.e. white-lipped peccaries and tapirs).

Study area & goals

Camera traps
 


  Our methodology involves a detection/non-detection sampling technique using camera traps. Cameras provide photographic imagery of passing jaguars. We then analyze landscape and environmental covariates to determine jaguar distribution and movement within the study area. Camera trapping also provides data on other cats species (pumas, ocelots, margays, jaguarundis) and their prey.


Umbrella species
 

  As an umbrella species, the jaguar confers protection to co-occurring species within its habitat.  By preserving the cloud forest, we are protecting the home of the jaguar and other species, which make up the ecological community in the MVP.
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